Thursday, March 29, 2018


Erev Shabbos Kodesh – First day of Pesach
14 Nissan 5778/March 30, 2018

There’s no doubt that getting ready for Pesach isn’t easy. But with today’s new innovations there’s far less to stress about.
For example, you can buy ten pieces of bread for bedikas chometz already prepared. No longer do you need to exert yourself breaking up a bagel or slicing bread into ten pieces, and then wrapping them in a napkin. Now all that arduous labor has been done for you, and you can feel like you went from bondage to freedom.
The same holds true with pre-peeled potatoes for karpas. Next year they’ll pre-dip them into salt water too.
How about a pre-assembled קערה with the shank-bone already roasted, the egg peeled and roasted, and everything else in place too?
A cleaning crew will clean your car, and your shaimos can be picked up from your home.
Maybe next year they’ll have an app which can be set on a timer to read the Haggadah on Seder night at the table, while you relax comfortably on the couch.
Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi recently quipped (somewhat humorously) that men should stop telling women that cleaning for Pesach isn’t so hard. The men say it because they don’t want their wives to be stressed, because they know if she’s stressed, they’ll be too. But the bottom line is that cleaning and preparing isn’t easy.
There is a certain amount of stress that pre-Pesach invariably brings. There is a tremendous amount of preparatory work to be done within a limited time. It’s more challenging when we are only able to begin our pre-Pesach efforts at night after a full day of work and dealing with young children.
Aside from knowing what halacha demands and what is unnecessary exertion, we cannot change the time and effort necessary for “making Pesach”. However, we can change our perspective, and often that makes a tremendous difference.
When we remember that it’s not just a chore and obligation, but a mitzvah we are fulfilling for the honor of Hashem it becomes more bearable. If it’s a mitzvah (commandment to be performed), that means there is a metzaveh who commanded it. By fulfilling the command of the commander, we draw close to the commander.
At the Seder we draw closer to Hashem through the Haggadah, matzah, marror, and wine. Before Pesach, we draw close to Hashem with Windex, Easy Off, Mr. Clean, and Bleach.
Mesiras Nefesh is an important value in living a Torah life. It entails serving Hashem with selflessness and sacrifice. We make a big mistake when we think only major acts of mesirus nefesh are significant, such as stories we hear about individuals who risked their lives to perform a mitzvah or daven in Auschwitz or Siberia. But we fail to realize that when we forgo comfort and push ourselves beyond our comfort zones to perform a mitzvah and serve Hashem, that too is an act of mesiras nefesh, considered invaluable in the celestial courts.
What’s more, when our children see us exerting ourselves preparing for Pesach, they learn that mitzvos require effort, but are worth the exertion.
In years, when we weren’t home much on Pesach, Chani would suggest that we still kasher or at least clean part of the house, so our children should see us busying ourselves for Yom Tov.  
Last year, after kashering our stovetop and oven, I covered the area above and around the oven with tin foil. Soon afterwards, I turned on the oven to preheat for supper. Within minutes, the electric board which contains the dials that control the oven were completely melted. I had misguidedly covered the oven vent, causing the boiling oven air to become trapped in that area, burning it in seconds.
Repairmen also need to make a living, and a repairman arrived later that day to fix the electric on the oven. He reassured me that he gets calls like this all the time before Pesach, and I wasn’t the first klutz.
When I was reflecting on the incident and trying to come up with a good lesson to be learned from it, I had an epiphany. In fact, there’s a great lesson to be learned: When covering your oven and cleaning for Pesach generally, make sure you don’t cover the vents. That’s true for ovens, as well as refrigerators, and freezers. Make sure to be safe!
So, as we head into this most regal and beautiful Yom Tov, may we all merit to have a chag kasher v’sameiach. Not only should we enjoy the holiday itself, but may we also be elevated and inspired by all the efforts we invest prior, despite the challenge and fatigue we feel.
May we not lose our cool despite our impatience and frustration. But if we do, may we vent safely, and not at our children and (clueless) husbands or wives.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos
Freilichen Yom Tov & Chag Kasher V’sameiach,
              R’ Dani and Chani Staum